Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last Advanced English Class

After 6 weeks, we ended this round of classes last night. In honour of the end of the class and the Royal Wedding, I made my late Gran's special "peppermint crisp pudding" (I have to import some of the ingredients, so this is only for very special occasions!). It was a nice way to end off the classes until we have the next set in the autumn.

There were 12 people who finished the course and received Certificates. It was quite a mixed group - ranging from high school scholars and students to married mothers and one policeman!
Here we are: Back row: Alen, Boris, Alen, Miroslav, me and Eliska; Middle: Una and Sofija; Front: Tanja, Tanja, Suzanna, Svjetlana, Drazen and Sandra
We had a great time in the classes: learning a lot of new words and some grammar, but mostly just having a chance to talk English and practice that which they already knew. I think everyone really enjoyed the classes... especially me!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter at the Orphanage...part two: egg painting!

After our trip to the Orphanage on Monday (see here) we organised to come back and help them with the egg-painting for Easter. We brought paint and brushes and the home organised the cooking of the eggs, so all of the eggs were hard boiled by the time we got there... luckily! With 7 of us and lots of the home's employees, we had a great morning painting eggs with about 30 of the younger kids... and enjoyed the start of the Easter Holiday with them:
Here is Simo showing how it is done: lots of concentration!
And here is Luka trying to get Dasha to "lupati" (knock/hit) his egg to see whose is stronger: and Dasha just ignoring him and carrying on... go Dasha!
Stefan with his namesake little Stefan: 
Who says the volunteers can't get creative too? Here is Tanja showing us how it is done:
Bojana decided to paint her egg like Suzana's nails: love it!
And this is possibly my favourite photo: Jovana with little Dragana:
And I even got some photos of me with the kids. I usually don't remember to take photos of myself, so enjoy proof that I was actually there...
Here I am with Bozana:
And with Dragana: she is showing her egg in the "basket" which we coloured on Monday: each of the children got theirs back today to put their egg in:
Here is the "Vrtic" group (pre-school) with their eggs:
And little Vaso showing all of their eggs: I can just eat him up!
Some of the older kids were also working on dyeing the eggs (red) while we painted and so here is all of the eggs that survived (being eaten or beaten!):
And while we were painting the eggs,  a TV production crew from one of Banja Luka's local stations came to do a report on another donation which was given to the Home for Easter. When they saw the egg painting they took some shots of us, and then the Home's Director suggested that I should also give them an interview...aaargh... My first sentence was "I am a foreigner" so they wouldn't think that I was retarded...but even without preparation, I think I did ok...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Czech evening in Ihtus

The Czech team that is here held an evening about Easter/Passover at the Ihtus Club. It included a presentation on the connection between the Jewish Passover and our Easter including some Hebrew songs:
It was very interesting to see the connection between the two and everyone who came seems to have enjoyed the presentation and songs:
After the presentation and a great drama outside (the pics were too dark, sorry!), it was time to try out some Czech eats:

And I think everyone enjoyed that as well!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter at the Orphanage...

This year the Orthodox and Catholic/Protestant Easter is the same weekend (it doesn't happen every year!) This week the school holidays are this week, ending with the Easter weekend. The last two years we have organised something at Easter for the kids:  see here - 2009, 2010.  This year they asked us when we were coming :-) 

We also have a team from the Czech Republic here at the moment, so we asked them if they would like to help us make a nice program for the children during their school holidays: They helped us with the story of passover and Easter (with some acting out by the rest of the team which I didn't photograph):










Then we had an "Easter Egg Hunt" for paper Easter Eggs which we had hidden around the room beforehand. This was something very new for the kids and they LOVED it! We then coloured in those Easter eggs (and some other Easter related activities):



















And at the end we gave out chocolate Easter eggs to each of the children...
The Czech team, the children, teachers, and our great team of volunteers all had a really lovely time, as did I!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red Letter Day

A "red letter day" to me means having something significant happen, something usually good. Since coming to Bosnia, the origin of the word has become clear: it is the days in the Orthodox (and Catholic I hear) calendar marked in red ink: they are more significant, more special and need to be respected more. Here, you are supposed to fast and not do any significant work on that day. Putting on your washing machine is a complete no-no for instance...

And even after so many years I don't really know when they are going to happen, and even when I had a calendar in my house, I would still forget to look and yip, put the machine on! Last week, I was reminded again of this facility of mine to use the washing machine on days that are marked with red ink: Thursday was "Blagovjesti" (Blessed news): the day when the Angel Gabriel came to tell Mary she was going to give birth to Jesus. And I was busy all day except for 2 hours in which I fatally decided to put the washing machine on.

When I went onto the balcony to hang out the washing, my landlady was quite nice about it, but in no uncertain terms let me know what I had done... she even pointed that I was probably the only person in Banja Luka who had put my machine on, as it really was a special "red letter day": more special than most.

It is mostly a superstition - i.e. if you put the machine on, something bad will happen - and as I don't believe it, I don't stress about it like other people! But I hope one day I will learn when not to put the washing machine on and not mess up on a red letter day!

In other news... this week has been a red letter week in the Chaplin family around the world: my brother (in Canada) managed to separate his shoulder, and my mom (in South Africa) broke her leg! I am hoping that the third thing is that my parents' kombi broke down... otherwise who knows what could happen. (good thing I am not superstitious!)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

News on my nephew...

I have blogged before here about my nephew Luke's battle with a rare genetic disease. Here is a fantastic news piece which was done on the story: I am one proud sister and aunt!
CTV British Columbia - Brother's donation could help boy with rare disease - CTV News

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Spring is sprung...

I was walking on the big local park this morning, and there is only one tree that has really blossomed to show that spring has really sprung. As I walked around I came at it from different angles...

I liked this one, as it looks the other trees (which represent winter) are trying to hold back the inevitable!
And here she is in all her glory: 
The other trees will catch up with her soon... Spring in Banja Luka is so beautiful... so full of hope and sights and sounds and smells of new life. Granted, it is rainy and there can be floods with the snow melt, but it is still a lovely time of the year!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Three things I can't do without...

So, I am talking about three things that I can't do without... 

The first thing I do when I get up every morning is take my thyroid hormone tablet... I have to take one every day for the rest of my life in order to replace the hormone my thyroid is not producing. Now that they have figured out the right level I just have to keep taking the tablet and get my levels checked every 6 months or so. But this is something that I really cannot do without...

Another thing that I have found that I really cannot do without is a good cup of 'English' tea: ie black/indian/ceylon tea: medium strong with sugar and milk! I even bring teabags from England or South Africa as the ones that are here aren't any good, and are quite expensive - so, you end up paying more for a bad cup of tea...hence the need to import my own teabags! (and I also carry them around with me so I can have it wherever I go: as people here do not have any black tea in their homes and as I don't drink coffee, this often presents a problem... but at certain people's homes - those I know well enough - I bring out my teabag and have them make me a 'cuppa' instead of the obligatory coffee).

And the third thing that I cannot do without on a daily basis is a good time reading my bible, praying and spending time with the Lord. I really feel it on the days when I don't make the time to do this!! And now that spring is springing I will soon be able to go out on my balcony in the morning and have my "quiet time" out there - and maybe even enjoying a good cup of tea while I am at it!!
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